Future use of Trevone House – questions from Jeremy Hilton

Trevone House before it was closed as a nursing home

On the 24th of April the county council cabinet, which is controlled by the Conservatives, agreed a plan to convert Trevone House into a resource centre for young people between ages of 16 and 20.

Trevone House will provide living accommodation for up to 21 young people who are in the care of the county council. The facility will have staff on duty 24/7.

The young persons’ facility will have a health assessment unit, an educational day service and apartments for young people to be able to learn the skills of daily living to prepare them for adulthood. It will be inspected by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission.

The county council held a public consultation on the 15th of May and another is planned during August.

Here are the set of questions from Jeremy Hilton that took place at cabinet on the 24th of April. First set is the written questions and answers. The second set are the verbal supplementary questions and answers.

The cabinet report can be read online, click here:
http://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/documents/s51904/Item%2011%20-%20Gloucestershires%20Sufficiceny%20Strategy%20-%20Semi-Independent%20Project.pdf

Question 1 – Jeremy Hilton

The report says the proposed remodelling of Trevone House will provide a resource centre for children and young people, provision of a health assessment unit, an educational day service and apartments for young people to be able to learn the skills of daily living to prepare them for adulthood. I agree that such a facility for young people in care is required in Gloucestershire, but what other properties in the county were considered and where are they located?

Answer 1 – Richard Boyles

Children Services over the past few years have considered a number of options in relation to providing provision of placements for children and young people in county. This has included looking at existing buildings, as well as purchasing new provision, both in urban and more rural areas. Unfortunately, these searches did not identify any potential properties with the scope that is being offered from using Trevone House. This project is innovative in its design, offering a multi agency approach to our young people. Because of this, it needs to be centrally located, accessible both for young people to access community resources, but also for staff and partners.

Question 2 – Jeremy Hilton

I was only briefed about this proposal on the 11th of April 2019, the day before the cabinet report was published. Local residents haven’t been consulted. What plans do you have to fully consult local residents, other care institutions and local schools based in Kingsholm? And will they be listened to?

Answer 2 – Richard Boyles

A communications plan will be implemented, to engage with and listen to local residents, so that everyone has an opportunity to share their views. Our young ambassadors will be part of this process, bringing to life their journeys, working together not only for the development of this project but also for the life time of the provision, to reduce anxiety, mitigate risks and promote community cohesion.

Question 3 – Jeremy Hilton

In paragraph 3.2, the report says that this proposal will provide accommodation for 16-20 year olds. Can you provide me with an assurance that no person will be placed at Trevone House who is over the age of 20 years?

Answer 3 – Richard Boyles

This project is to support young people moving onto independence from the age of 16 years, planning for them to move on to independent accommodation. In exceptional circumstances, where young people need more time or support due to their learning or emotional needs, consideration would be given for them to remain in placement post 20 years. These young people would have a robust transition plan in place.

Question 4 – Jeremy Hilton

Will the new young persons facility at Trevone House be a single gender provision? If not, what spilt in genders is expected?

Answer 4 – Richard Boyles

The accommodation will be co-ed, but this will be in the context of a needs lead service and planned placements. Placement matching is key to the success of this project and a panel will be in place to review placement referrals. This will be multi agency, with colleagues from Health, Police, Children’s Services and the provider. The panel will not only review the placement referrals, it will also monitor the young people in placement.

Question 5 – Jeremy Hilton

On Radio Gloucestershire, (8am on 15th April 2019), Cllr Mark Hawthorne stated that there would be a minimum of 4 members staff on duty 24/7. Is this correct and how many staff will be on duty during the day and over the night?

Answer 5 – Richard Boyles

The whole concept of this project is to support and enable our young people to flourish and be aspirational in developing their plans for adulthood. Therefore, staffing is critical, not only in the numbers but the quality and skills of the staff team. There will be a minimum of four staff on duty at any one time, across the whole project. At times, where needed, there will be more staff on duty for those young people who need higher levels of support. Parts of the tendering process will require potential providers to evidence their staffs skills and training and supervision standards to ensure they meet the requirements of this. Given the nature of the project, there will be additional staff during the day to deliver the day service provision. The project will also have capacity to bring in additional staff as required and to support young people in distress, particularly those in need of health assessments

The following supplementary questions were asked at the meeting

Supplementary Question 1 – Jeremy Hilton

Cllr Hilton referred to the large number of care institutions based in Kingsholm and stated how important it was not to overload the community with such facilities. Seeking clarification on the answer to his question, Cllr Hilton asked what other properties in the county had been considered as possible locations for a young person’s facility? Cllr Hilton asked Cllr Boyles to provide a written answer to the question, including the reasons why the locations had been dismissed as suitable premises.

Response by: Cllr Richard Boyles (Cabinet Member for Children and Young People)

Cllr Boyles explained that the project to provide a young person’s facility as was proposed four years ago under the IRIS project. After the Ofsted Inspection in 2017, a key part of Gloucestershire’s Sufficiency Strategy expanded the need for a wider range of local accommodation options. Cllr Boyles explained that some of the properties that had originally been considered were no longer suitable . The Gloucestershire Sufficiency Strategy aimed to cater for young people in the community. Cllr Boyles agreed to provide Cllr Hilton with a written response to his question after the meeting. He stated that, as the terms of the project grew, so did the terms of requirement.

Supplementary Question 2 – Jeremy Hilton

Cllr Hilton acknowledged there was a communications plan but stressed the importance of consulting with the local community. Cllr Hilton asked for assurance that consultation had been done?

Response by: Cllr Richard Boyles

Cllr Boyles referred to the clear communications plan which set out the engagements that would be undertaken with the local community on a wide range of issues associated with the project, including bus services, schools and hospitals. Cllr Boyles agreed to provide a written response to the question after the meeting and assured Cllr Hilton the views of the local community would be listened to.

Supplementary Question 3 – Jeremy Hilton

Cllr Hilton stated that, in the UK, a person reached maturity and was regarded as an adult by the time of their 18th birthday. Cllr Hilton asked Cllr Boyles to guarantee no new person over the age of 20 would be placed at Trevone House and that no one over age 20 would spend their first night in care at the house?

Response by: Cllr Richard Boyles

Cllr Boyles stated he was unable to promise that no one over the age of 20 would be placed at Trevone House. He explained some placements could roll over beyond the age of 18 and that he would need to consult with the team on the matter. Cllr Boyles did not envisage anyone over the age of 20 would be placed at the facility but could not give a definite yes or no at this time.

Supplementary Question 4 – Jeremy Hilton

Cllr Hilton noted that the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted were regulators of the facility and asked how often and how rigorous were their inspections expected to be?

Response by: Cllr Richard Boyles

Cllr Boyles confirmed the inspections would be as rigorous as always and that the inspection reports would be available as and when the information was provided. The inspections would be annual but may be more frequent.

Supplementary Question 5 – Jeremy Hilton

Cllr Hilton referred to a recent briefing with Cllr Boyles and the indication there would only be two people on duty overnight. Cllr Hilton also referred to a recent radio interview given by the Leader of the Council, Cllr Mark Hawthorne, where it was suggested there would be 4 members of staff on duty 24/7. Cllr Hilton sought clarification on how many members of staff would be on duty at the facility from 9pm to 9am?

Response by: Cllr Richard Boyles

Cllr Boyles confirmed there would be 4 members of staff on duty, once the facility was fully open. Until this time, and as the facility developed, the number of staff could be lower, dependent on the number of residents. Cllr Boyles said that everything would be risk assessed, with additional staff brought in if the risk was deemed appropriate.

Gloucester Lib Dems demand hourly train services to London

Jeremy Hilton at Gloucester Railway Station, with current timetable to London

The Liberal Democrats are demanding Network Rail delivers on a commitment for hourly direct rail services to London from Gloucester.

Hourly direct services to Paddington were due to start in December 2018 but have been delayed until December 2019 at the earliest.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, leader of Gloucester Liberal Democrats, is calling on Network Rail to deliver the hourly service as part of the forthcoming May 2019 timetable changes for the Great Western mainline.

“Hourly direct services to London from Gloucester and Cheltenham would be a real economic boost to Gloucestershire and may even encourage businesses to consider moving to the county,” Councillor Hilton said.

“They would also improve links to the capital for Gloucester’s residents.

“I understand train operator Great Western Railways is keen to run the services and I would urge Network Rail to bring forward the timetable changes to this May.”

It is understood Network Rail has delayed implementing the hourly service due to problems with the timetable changes introduced last year, particularly on the Northern and Thameslink networks.

Network Rail has written to Gloucestershire County Council to inform them that from May there will be a new weekday 9.19am service from Cheltenham to Paddington with a weekday 4.36pm service in the return direction.

Councillor Hilton added: “Already, there has been major investment in dual tracking the railway line between Kemble and Swindon. GWR has also invested in new rolling stock.

“The additional daytime service that is being launched from May is a welcome improvement but we want to see the hourly services that were due to start last year introduced.”

Council Red Tape delaying work to improve Wellington Parade Garden

The proposed layout for Wellington Parade Garden


Ground work to improve Wellington Parade Garden on London Road has been delayed. The city council had planned to start construction this month and follow on with the planting of shrubs and plants in April.

But, Lib Dem councillors Jeremy Hilton and Isabel Brazil have been told that tenders haven’t even been issued for the work. Tenders have been delayed by the city council’s legal services team.

Currently, the garden is closed because it has become a location of problem street drinking. Adults have been drinking alcohol to excess, fighting and arguing between themselves, and using local residents’ front gardens as a toilet. The new garden layout has been designed to be more attractive and to discourage street drinking.

Jeremy Hilton at Wellington Parade Garden

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Lib Dem – Kingsholm & Wotton) said:  “The delay in construction of the new garden is disappointing, but this is becoming normal with projects run by Gloucester City Council. With so many jobs lost under the Tories’ austerity plan, there are not enough staff to process projects on time. This really is a ‘Vanishing Council’. 

“Isabel Brazil and I have worked hard to get an agreement for improvements to this problem garden. We secured funding to enable works to be done, but to be told last week that it is being delayed by the legal services team, is ridiculous. This is not a big project, but the red tape being applied may cost more than the budget for the actual ground work.”

Cllr. Isabel Brazil (Lib Dem – Kingsholm & Wotton) said: “A new Public Space Protection Order banning the drinking of alcohol in public spaces along London Road recently came into force. The second stage of our action plan is a new layout for the garden that should discourage street drinking. The city council needs to get on with this project.”

Residents Parking Permit Review

Gloucestershire County Council is about to embark on a countywide review of residents’ permit parking zones. It is expected that this will start on 1st of April. We have been assured that Kingsholm will be considered early in the review.

The county council will consider the current parking zone areas to see if amendments are required.

The following streets will also be considered as potential areas to be included in the residents parking permits scheme.

Area 1 – North end of Deans Way, Sandhurst Road, Edwy Parade, & Kingsholm Square

Area 2 – Hinton Road, Malvern Road, North Road & Seabroke Road

Area 3 – Sebert Street, Oxford Road, Henry Road, Henry Street & Honyatt Road – plus parts of Heathville Road and Denmark Road.

Jeremy Hilton said: “Both Isabel Brazil and I have received a number of requests for residents parking zones to be introduced in Kingsholm. I am disappointed that a review should take place at same time as the permit fees are due to go up. However, there is serious commuter congestion in some streets that can only be resolved with a residents’ permit scheme.”

Isabel Brazil said: “Changes to the permit zones will only go ahead if supported by a majority of residents living in the area. The county council will fully consult.”

Jeremy Hilton raises objections to planning officer’s report to approve 100 houses on former Civil Service Sports Ground

Jeremy Hilton fighting to save the Civil Service Sports Ground

Jeremy Hilton has written to the city council development control team to raise objections to their recommendation to approve Redrow’s planning application 18/00306/FUL to build 100 houses on the former Civil Service Club Sports Ground.

Cllr. Hilton believes this to be inconsistent with the planning committee’s decision on the 4th December when it rejected the application for 89 properties on the same site. The planning committee are meeting on Tuesday the 8th of January at 6pm to determine the application for 100 houses.

 

Redrow’s plan for 100 houses on former sports fields, in heart of Kingsholm

Jeremy Hilton has listed ten reasons why the application should be rejected. Here are his objections in full.

A. Housing Types:

The development meets the 20% affordable homes target, with appropriate mix of housing types, but it does not meet the requirement for market housing mix, with no provision for one or two bedroom homes. Kingsholm & Wotton has a good mix of housing and so should any new development in the ward. The applicant proposes 31 three bedroom houses and 49 four bedroom houses. The mix according to SHMA should be 9 one bedroom homes, 23 two bedroom homes, 30 three bedroom homes and 18 four bedroom homes. Rejection on this policy alone would be consistent with the committee decision on the 89 house application.

B. Land Purchase:

The applicants purchased the sports ground from the Civil Service Sports Council Ltd for just £10,000 in 2011 (GR355501). The applicants should publicly declare the details of the uplift clause they have with Civil Service Sports Council Ltd.

I believe it is this legal agreement that is responsible for the maximisation of housing on the site rather than what one would expect in open discussion with the council and community on a development brief that would benefit all. Some degree of housing whilst retaining the main sports field for sport and recreation, would benefit everyone.

C. Alternative sport provision:

It may be that the land has not been used for sport for more than five years, but that is because of a deliberate policy by the landowners to close the ground for sporting activities.

I am disappointed that Sport England have changed their objection to the development. I don’t think a cash gift from Redrow of £2m to the city council to be spent elsewhere in Gloucester on sports provision adequately compensates for the loss of the playing fields that are in the heart of Kingsholm.

The applicant has been unable to identify alternative provision elsewhere in Kingsholm & Wotton and therefore some sports provision should be retained on site. Spartans Rugby Club that is based in Sherborne Street would support the provision here for an additional rugby pitch for the club to use.

D. Joint Core Strategy INF3

The proposed development of 100 dwellings in my opinion is not consistent with JCS policy on green infrastructure. The former Civil Service Sport Ground provides a worthy green infrastructure asset that should be protected to help resolve the shortage of open space in Kingsholm and Wotton.

I believe it is not beyond the wit of Redrow Homes to come up with a development solution that would provide much needed housing whilst retaining a large open space that could continue to be used for sport and recreation.

The impact on the biodiversity from the wholesale building on the site will be negative. Two badger sets as indicated in the report will disappear if the development proceeds. Trees will be felled. The report also states that the development will create the loss of a foraging area for bats.

The proposed tiny public open space is tucked away in the corner of the site giving the impression that it is an exclusive space for residents of the estate rather than one that is inclusive for everyone living in Kingsholm to use. A large percentage of the public open space is set out as a flood attenuation basin, making the space practicably unusable for recreational purposes.

 Here is Policy INF3

  1. The green infrastructure network of local and strategic importance will be conserved and enhanced, in order to deliver a series of multifunctional, linked green corridors across the JCS area by:
    i. Improving the quantity and/or quality of assets;
    ii. Improving linkages between assets in a manner appropriate to the scale of development, and
    iii. Designing improvements in a way that supports the cohesive management of green
    infrastructure;
  2. Development proposals should consider and contribute positively towards green infrastructure, including the wider landscape context and strategic corridors between major assets and populations. Where new residential development will create, or add to, a need for publicly accessible green space or outdoor space for sports and recreational on, this will be fully met in accordance with Policy INF4. Development at Strategic Allocations will be required to deliver connectivity through the site, linking urban areas with the wider rural hinterland
  3. Existing green infrastructure will be protected in a manner that reflects its contribution
    to ecosystem services (including biodiversity, landscape/townscape quality, the historic environment, public access, recreation and play) and the connectivity of the green infrastructure network. Development proposals that will have an impact on woodlands, hedges and trees will need to include a justification for why this impact cannot be avoided and should incorporate measures acceptable to the Local Planning Authority to mitigate the loss. Mitigation should be provided on-site or, where this is not possible, in the immediate environs of the site
  4. Where assets are created, retained or replaced within a scheme, they should be properly integrated into the design and contribute to local character and distinctiveness. Proposals should also make provisions for future maintenance of green infrastructure.

E. Joint Core Strategy INF4

The lack of serious community engagement by Redrow ahead of this planning application, about the future use of the site, is lamentable. They locked the gates and closed down the sporting use, even though it was a well used facility.

Redrow have only presented plans that have proposed the complete building on the site, with the total loss of the playing fields. They have never properly consulted with anyone who lives in Kingsholm.

The proposal for provide £148,784.31 towards the Sebert Street Recreation Ground play area has NOT been discussed with the community. This is currently one of the best play areas in the city that was created by the parents of Kingsholm Kids at Play. I am concerned about possible overdevelopment of the Sebert Street Recreational Ground as proposed in the officer’s report. What about Deans Way Meadow? Why is there no onsite provision?

There is no clarity in the officer recommendations on what the Section 106 financial agreement will be and what positive impact these will have on the local community.

I believe Redrow have failed to meet the requirement of Joint Core Strategy policy INF4 for social and community infrastructure

Here is Policy INF4

  1. Proposals to develop land or buildings currently or previously in use as a community facility will demonstrate, including evidence of engagement with relevant local community groups and partner organisations, why the facility is no longer required and, as appropriate, how, when and where suitable local replacement facilities will be provided. Provision of replacement facilities will have regard to the locational and other relevant elements of this policy
  2. Where new residential development will create, or add to, a need for community facilities, it will be fully met as on-site provision and/or as a contribution to facilities or services onsite. New or refurbished provision will be of an appropriate type, standard and size. From an early stage, developers will be expected to engage with the relevant local authorities and infrastructure providers and, as appropriate, relevant local community groups where they exist, to ensure that new provision meets the needs of the community that it will serve and is t for purpose
  3. Social and community infrastructure should be centrally located to the population it serves and
    be easily accessible on foot and by bicycle. It should be located so as to have the potential to be well-served by public transport. Developers should aim to provide flexible, multifunctional facilities within mixed-use developments, creating shared space which maximises benefits to the community and minimises land-take. In the case of open space, ‘easily accessible’ means it is located within reasonable walking distance of the development it serves. New facilities should be accessible to all members of the community, and be planned and phased in parallel with new development.

 F. Joint Core Strategy INF6

This development, as did the one for 89 houses, fails to meet the requirement of this policy. The site will increase carbon emissions rather than reduce them with large increase of vehicles into the area around Denmark Road. It will reduce the opportunity to improve the health of local people in the area by reducing the local opportunity for sport and recreation for residents of Kingsholm.

Kingsholm Primary School, which is a vibrant and popular school has expressed concern about their ability to cope with the additional children going to the school and the possible detriment to children from traveller families, who may no longer be able to get it.

Here is Policy INF6

  1. Where infrastructure requirements are generated as a result of individual site proposals and / or having regard to cumulative impact, new development will be served and supported by adequate and appropriate on- and / or off-site infrastructure and services. In identifying infrastructure requirements, development proposals will also demonstrate that full regard has been given, where appropriate, to implementing the requirements of the Joint Core Strategy Infrastructure Delivery Plan
  2.  Where need for additional infrastructure and services and / or impacts on existing infrastructure and services is expected to arise, the Local Planning Authority will seek to secure appropriate infrastructure which is necessary, directly related, and fairly and reasonably related to the scale and kind of the development proposal, including:
  •  Broadband infrastructure
  • Climate change mitigation/adaptation;
  • Community and cultural facilities and initiatives;
  • Early Years and Education;
  • Health and well-being facilities and sport, recreation and leisure facilities;
  • The highway network, traffic management, sustainable transport and disabled people’s access;
  • Protection of cultural and heritage assets and the potential for their enhancement;
  • Protection of environmental assets and the potential for their enhancement;
  • Provision of Green Infrastructure including open space;
  • Public realm;
  • Safety and security including emergency services.

3. Priority for provision will be assessed both on a site-by-site basis and having regard to the mitigation of cumulative impact, together with implementation of the JCS Infrastructure Delivery Plan

4. Planning permission will be granted only where sufficient provision has been made for infrastructure and services (together with their continued maintenance) to meet the needs of new development and / or which are required to mitigate the impact of new development upon existing communities. Infrastructure and services must be provided in line with an agreed, phased timescale and in accordance with other requirements of this Plan.

G. Draft City Plan Policy SA06

The provision of 100 dwellings is in my opinion is overdevelopment of the site, which is in the heart of Kingsholm. Council policy as identified in the draft City Plan, which was approved by council in December 2016, recommends a maximum of 20 dwellings (SA06).

The proposal of 100 dwellings exceeds this policy by 500%, with the complete loss of the playing fields.

A compromise of 40 dwellings, for example, on this site would mean that the former sports field could be brought back into use

H. Layout of the site:

The layout of the site does not follow the usual street pattern that is evident in Kingsholm. It is adjacent to both the Kingsholm and Denmark Road conservation areas.

I am concerned that the narrow streets on estate may become clogged up with motorists parking their cars on footpaths. This is a problem that will be exacerbated during times when there are rugby matches being played at the Kingsholm stadium.

If 89 houses was an overdevelopment of the site as mentioned in the minutes of the December meeting then surely 100 houses is more so. There is still concern about the closeness of houses next to Bijou Court. There are a few areas where the relationships are below 21 metres separation, a concern raised by the planning officer.

I. Highway access:

The proposed access onto Denmark Road is unacceptable. It closes the slip road to Lansdown Road and removes much-needed parking spaces on Denmark Road.

The closure of the slip road will create more vehicle conflict at the other junction with Lansdown Road. This will be a particular problem when school coaches use this junction. Parents often park illegally on double yellow lines at this point. The problem will become much worse.

The closure of the slip road will also remove the U-turn provision it provides for the houses serviced off the dual carriageway section of Denmark Road on the south side.

J. Public open space:

Kingsholm & Wotton has a low level of public open space as identified in the city council’s open spaces strategy. The officer report confirms this to be the case. The council’s public open space standard is 2.8ha per 1000 population.

Based on the new ward boundaries introduced at the 2016 election the ward has just 0.49ha per 1,000 population. Or 3.59ha for a population based on mid 2016 of 7,259 persons.

An opportunity is being missed in the proposed development to achieve a good increase in public open space provision in the ward because of the wholesale development of the site.

Sandhurst Lane – speeding motorists are a menace

Isabel Brazil & Jeremy Hilton on Sandhurst Lane near to the traffic survey point

Speeding motorists travelling on along Sandhurst Lane in Kingsholm and Wotton are a menace say local Lib Dem councillors, Jeremy Hilton and Isabel Brazil.

A survey carried out between the 16th and 22nd July by Gloucestershire County Council found that 80% of southbound motorists were speeding as they approached St. Oswald’s Road. 

The survey was requested by county councillor Jeremy Hilton. It was taken at the midway point between Rivermead Close and Greville Close along the built-up section of Sandhurst Lane.

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: “The results confirm what many of us already knew that far too many motorists are speeding along Sandhurst Lane. They are breaking the 30mph speed limit and risking the lives of pedestrians walking on the narrow footways. 

“There is a clear road safety issue here that the county council must resolve. I have asked the county traffic manager to propose a solution that will help reduce traffic speeds to below the 30mph limit.

“Even though the results suggest northbound vehicles are not breaking the limit have seen motorists accelerate aggressively as they pass by Rivermead Close.”

Cllr. Isabel Brazil agreed and said: “Speeding vehicles are a menace, particularly on a lane with narrow or non-existent footways. The county council must do something.”

Over the seven days of the survey the volume of traffic averaged out at 2,047 vehicles per day.

Southbound survey results

The survey found that 80% of southbound drivers were travelling at a speed greater than the 30mph limit. The average speed was 39mph with 85% of vehicles travelling at speeds of 47mph or less.

Northbound survey results

Only 2.5% of northbound vehicles were travelling above the 30mph speed limit. The northbound, traffic kept within the speed limits with an average speed of 21mph and with 85% of vehicles travelling at speeds of 25mph or less.

Jeremy Hilton renews call for new comprehensive school in the north of Gloucester

Closed by the Tories. Jeremy Hilton outside former Bishop’s College. A lost opportunity to build new comprehensive school here.

Jeremy Hilton has reiterated calls for a new secondary school to be built in the north of the city.

It comes after forecasts prepared by the Department for Education reveal a shortfall of 477 secondary school places in Gloucester by 2023/24.

Across the country 130,000 children are at risk of missing out on a secondary school place over the next five years, according to the Local Government Association.

Rising birth rates and the thousands of new homes built at Kingsway and Cooper’s Edge has seen increasing pressure for primary school places in Gloucester.

But with thousands of new homes planned on the outskirts of Gloucester – at Innsworth, Churchdown and Brockworth as part of the Joint Core Strategy – there will be further demand on school places.

Gloucester Liberal Democrats have long argued there was a need for a new non-selective secondary school in the north of the city as children not attending either Sir Thomas Rich’s or Denmark Road High School for Girls, having to travel to Churchdown, Brockworth, Tewkesbury, Newent, the south of Gloucester or further afield.

Jeremy Hilton said the school should have been built on the former Bishop’s College site in Longlevens but housing is now being built there instead.

When Jeremy and Gloucester Lib Dems first called for a new comprehensive secondary school in the north of Gloucester the then Conservative county council cabinet member for children and young people dismissed it as a “pre-election stunt”.

But the need for a new secondary school in Gloucester has now been supported by a report prepared by the county council.

The Gloucester City School Places Review said the need for extra primary school places would be met by expanding existing schools and agreements with housing developers to build additional schools.

But with secondary schools the review states that there is a “significant shortfall of places from 2022” and a new site for a secondary school in Gloucester should be found.

The report also says that existing secondary schools should be expanded where possible.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, said:

“When we first questioned which secondary schools the children living in all the new family homes being built on the outskirts of Gloucester would go to, the Tories just dismissed our concern.

“With so many houses planned because of the Joint Core Strategy it was obvious there was going to be further pressure on primary and secondary school places in Gloucester.

“The Department for Education’s own forecasts support this, and the county council has now realised what we have been saying all along about the need for a new comprehensive secondary school.

”It is vital that this school is non-selective. A genuine, high performing comprehensive school. There is no need for any further grammar school places. The grammars are already taking far too many pupils that live outside the city and even outside Gloucestershire. The new comprehensive school must be built to serve those that live in the north of Gloucester.”

Ends…

Pride in the European Union

Jeremy Hilton & Rebecca Trimnell with Lib Dem team campaigning in Gloucester

Liberal Democrats in Gloucester will be taking their campaign to remain in the European Union to Gloucester Pride on Saturday when party members will be handing out cards encouraging everyone to support having a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.

This campaign will proceed a major debate at the county council when councillors will be encouraged to support a Lib Dem motion calling for a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal. In proposing a new referendum Liberal Democrats will want there to be a option to remain in the European Union.

Gloucester City Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Lib Dem – Kingsholm & Wotton) who is a county councillor will speak in the debate said: 

“Gloucester may have voted leave in 2016, but I imagine many people are now having second thoughts. The government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations is lamentable. Leave lied to the public. Boris Johnson has quit just as David Davies did before him.

“I will be urging all county councillors to back the Lib Dem call for a people’s vote on the final Brexit deal. It is imperative that the people of Gloucester and the United Kingdom have the final say on whether to proceed with Brexit or to remain members of the European Union.

“Leaving the EU will mean the loss of citizenship rights we now all enjoy. Currently we are able to work, study, live and retire anywhere in the EU. Our European Health Insurance Card provides health cover across all member states. These are benefits that are important to everyone, but especially so for the younger generation who are starting out on their adult lives.”

“We must also consider the negative impact that leaving the EU will have on many local businesses that trade within the Single Market.”

Dr. Rebecca Trimnell, Gloucester’s parliamentary spokesperson, said:

”I voted Remain in 2016 and I still believe that the UK should retain its full membership of the European Union. The evidence from the chaotic negotiations suggests that the best option is the status quo. It is also best option for Gloucester.

“I have spoken to many people who are worried about their own future, not only UK citizens but those EU nationals who live and work in the city. We cannot leave it to this incompetent government to make the decision on the final Brexit deal. The public must decide in a People’s Vote.”

Jeremy Hilton’s letter to Planning Inspectorate – Redrow appeal

Redrow Homes has appealed to the Secretary of State about Gloucester City Council’s non-determination of their planning application to build 89 dwellings on the former Civil Service Sports Ground off Estcourt Road. Application reference 16/00968/FUL.

This controversial application raised many objections from local residents when it was originally deposited with the council in 2016.

The deadline for comments to the Planning Inspectorate from the public was the 9th of August this year. Jeremy Hilton’s letter is below.

Gloucester City Council has still to respond. Within a few weeks the council will take its response to the planning committee for approval, before it is sent to the Planning Inspectorate.

 

 

Jeremy Hilton fighting to save the Civil Service Sports Ground

Jeremy Hilton’s Letter to Planning Inspectorate

I write to ask you to dismiss the appeal by Redrow Homes related to the planning application for 89 houses on the former Civil Service Sports Club ground (Ref:16/00968/FUL).

I am the local county and city councillor for Kingsholm & Wotton.

On the 19th of April 2017, I did write to the case officer at Gloucester City Council pointing out that the application was then seven months old and that it should be determined with a recommendation to refuse.

The council said they were giving more time to Redrow to resolve the issue about the loss of sports pitches. Redrow had not in April 2017 nor since provided evidence on how they would mitigate for the loss of the playing fields.

There is a shortage of rugby and football pitches in Gloucester. Spartans Ruby Club, which is based in Kingsholm, is looking for an additional pitch near to its club house, which is in neighbouring Sherborne Street.

The High School for Girls, which is in Denmark Road has also spoken to me about possible use of the sports field if it is saved from development.

All Redrow have done since acquiring the site in 2011 (for just £10,000) is shut the gates and demolish the club house etc, making the facilities unavailable for active sport that it had previously been used for.

Similarly, since acquiring the site Redrow have failed to properly discuss the future of the playing fields with the local community that is required in the Joint Core Strategy policy INF4. The lack of community engagement is lamentable.

Redrow’s idea of consultation has been to lodge two full planning applications with the council, leaving no opportunity for the council or the community to hold discussions about how the site could be developed for some housing, but leaving the rest of the site available for sport and recreation.

As Keith Annis a senior manager at Redrow once told me they were playing for time. The question must be asked why has it taken them nearly two years from depositing the planning application to lodge an appeal?

For Redrow to appeal against non-determination is rather hypocritical, particularly to do this only a few weeks after lodging a new planning application for 100 dwellings on the same site (Ref 18/00306/FUL)

Further Comments

A.    Affordable housing:

The plan for affordable homes did not meet the council’s then standard, when the application was submitted, which was 40 %. The application lists 18 dwellings as intermediate housing, this is equates to 20% of the build.

It was impossible for the council to approve an application that did not meet this standard. Subsequently, the Joint Core Strategy has been adopted, where the new limit is set at 20%.

B. Land Purchase:

The applicants purchased the sports ground from the Civil Service Sports Council Ltd for just £10,000 in 2011 (GR355501). The applicants should publicly declare the details of the uplift clause they have with Civil Service Sports Council Ltd.

I believe it is this legal agreement that is responsible for the maximisation of housing on the site rather than what one would expect an open discussion with the council and community on a development brief that would benefit all.

Some degree of housing whilst retaining the main sports field for sport and recreation, would benefit everyone.

C.    Alternative sport provision:

It may be that the land has not been used for sport for more than five years, but that is because of a deliberate policy by the landowners to close the ground for sporting activities.

I concur with Sport England that the application should be refused.

The applicants have failed to identify alternative facilities that could accommodate sporting activities that previously took place on the Civil Service Sports ground.

In my opinion, alternative provision must be within the Kingsholm & Wotton ward.

D. Joint Core Strategy INF3

The proposed development of 89 dwellings in my opinion is not consistent with JCS policy on green infrastructure. The former Civil Service Sport Ground provides a worthy green infrastructure asset that should be protected to help resolve the shortage of open space in Kingsholm and Wotton.

I believe it is not beyond the wit of all parties to come up with a development solution that would provide much needed housing whilst retaining a large open space that could continue to be used for sport and recreation.

Here is Policy INF3

1. The green infrastructure network of local and strategic importance will be conserved and enhanced, in order to deliver a series of multifunctional, linked green corridors across the JCS area by:
i. Improving the quantity and/or quality of assets;
ii. Improving linkages between assets in a manner appropriate to the scale of development, and
iii. Designing improvements in a way that supports the cohesive management of green
infrastructure;
2. Development proposals should consider and contribute positively towards green infrastructure, including the wider landscape context and strategic corridors between major assets and populations. Where new residential development will create, or add to, a need for publicly accessible green space or outdoor space for sports and recreational on, this will be fully met in accordance with Policy INF4. Development at Strategic Alloca ons will be required to deliver connectivity through the site, linking urban areas with the wider rural hinterland
3. Existing green infrastructure will be protected in a manner that reflects its contribution
to ecosystem services (including biodiversity, landscape / townscape quality, the historic environment, public access, recreation and play) and the connectivity of the green infrastructure network. Development proposals that will have an impact on woodlands, hedges and trees will need to include a jus ca on for why this impact cannot be avoided and should incorporate measures acceptable to the Local Planning Authority to mi gate the loss. Mi ga on should be provided on-site or, where this is not possible, in the immediate environs of the site
4. Where assets are created, retained or replaced within a scheme, they should be properly integrated into the design and contribute to local character and distinctiveness. Proposals should also make provisions for future maintenance of green infrastructure.

E. Joint Core Strategy INF4

As I have previously mentioned the lack of serious community engagement by Redrow ahead of this planning application, about the future use of the site, is lamentable.

Redrow have only showed plans that have proposed the complete building on the site, with the loss of the playing fields. They have never properly consulted anyone.

I believe they failed to meet the requirement of Joint Core Strategy policy INF4 for social and community infrastructure

Here is Policy INF4

1. Proposals to develop land or buildings currently or previously in use as a community facility will demonstrate, including evidence of engagement with relevant local community groups and partner organisations, why the facility is no longer required and, as appropriate, how, when and where suitable local replacement facilities will be provided. Provision of replacement facilities will have regard to the locational and other relevant elements of this policy
2. Where new residential development will create, or add to, a need for community facilities, it will be fully met as on-site provision and/or as a contribution to facilities or services o -site. New or refurbished provision will be of an appropriate type, standard and size. From an early stage, developers will be expected to engage with the relevant local authorities and infrastructure providers and, as appropriate, relevant local community groups where they exist, to ensure that new provision meets the needs of the community that it will serve and is t for purpose
3. Social and community infrastructure should be centrally located to the population it serves and
be easily accessible on foot and by bicycle. It should be located so as to have the potential to be well-served by public transport. Developers should aim to provide flexible, multifunctional facilities within mixed-use developments, creating shared space which maximises benefits to the community and minimises land-take. In the case of open space, ‘easily accessible’ means it is located within reasonable walking distance of the development it serves. New facilities should be accessible to all members of the community, and be planned and phased in parallel with new development.

F. Draft City Plan Policy SA06

The provision of 89 dwellings is in my opinion is overdevelopment of the site, which is in the heart of Kingsholm.

Council policy as identified in the draft City Plan, which was approved by council in December 2016, recommends a maximum of twenty dwellings (SA06).

The proposal of 89 dwellings exceeds this policy by 445%, with the complete loss of the playing fields.

A compromise of 40 dwellings, for example, on this site would mean that the former sports field could be brought back into use.

G. Layout of the site:

The layout of the site does not follow the usual street pattern that is evident in Kingsholm. It is adjacent to both the Kingsholm and Denmark Road conservation areas.

I am concerned that the narrow streets on estate may be become clogged up with motorists parking their cars on footpaths. This is a problem that will be exacerbated during times when there are rugby matches being played at the Kingsholm stadium.

The small public open space is set out to give the impression that it is an exclusive space just for the new residents of the estate. New public open space should laid out to be inclusive and available to all Kingsholm residents.

H.    Highway access:

I am not convinced by the design of the access point onto Estcourt Road slip road.

The proposed access onto Denmark Road is unacceptable. It closes the slip road to Lansdown Road and removes much-needed parking spaces on Denmark Road.

The closure of the slip road will create more vehicle conflict at the other junction with Lansdown Road. This will be a particular problem when school coaches use this junction.

The closure of the slip road will also remove the u-turn provision it provides for the houses serviced off the dual carriageway section of Denmark Road on the south side.

I.    Public open space:

Kingsholm & Wotton has a low level of public open space as identified in the city council’s open spaces strategy. The council’s standard is 2.8ha per 1000

Based on the new ward boundaries introduced at the 2016 election the ward has just 0.49ha per 1,000 population. Or 3.59ha for a population based on mid 2016 of 7,259 persons.

An opportunity is being missed in the proposed development to achieve a good increase in public open space provision in the ward by the wholesale development of the site, which was formerly used for sport and recreation.

I would recommend that this appeal is dismissed.

‘Suspend city council office move’ say Liberal Democrats

 

Jeremy Hilton & Declan Wilson with 92-96 Westgate Street in the background. This would be the new, much smaller customer advice centre for the city council. Drop in appointments to be ended.

Gloucester City Council should suspend its planned move of its offices to Shire Hall, say the Lib Dems. The current plan is for the city council to be based on the fifth floor at Shire Hall from 1st April 2019. Shire Hall is the headquarters of the county council.

The Liberal Democrat group says the business planning behind the project is ill thought out and the office accommodation will be temporary, too small and the financial savings unsound.

Lib Dem group leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said:

“Gloucester City Council under Conservative control really is becoming a ‘vanishing council’. The council lacks ambition and is unable to plan long term. The Conservative administration is exhausted and has run out of good ideas. Moving to Shire Hall is a desperate stop gap position. It attempts to save money but doesn’t. The move should be suspended to allow for a full reappraisal.

“The accommodation at Shire Hall and 92-96 Westgate Street amounts to just 1,175 sqm. This is 78% smaller in size compared to the 5,290 sqm at Herbert, Kimberley and Phillpotts warehouses at the Docks. The Tory cabinet has still not provided opposition councillors with the plans on how it will all be squeezed into such a small space. The public reception advice centre on Westgate Street will be tiny, just 123 sqm compared to current 377 sqm.

“The council has yet to secure an agreement with the Canals & River Trust about altering the covenant on Herbert, Kimberley and Phillpotts warehouses. Until this is sorted, the buildings cannot be put up for sale. We must not leave these grade II listed buildings empty whilst we find a buyer. In the past, two empty warehouses in the Docks have been destroyed by arson. This could happen again. We should not move out until we have sold the buildings to new owners who have obtained planning permission.

“The city council needs to acquire new accommodation for the long term. It requires space to grow, especially if the council ends the Amey streetcare contract and brings the service back in house. We should build new offices in the Kings Quarter next to the new bus station. This would help kickstart the regeneration of the immediate area. It would be a bold move repeating the success of the council’s move to the Docks in the 1980’s.

Lib Dem deputy leader, Declan Wilson agreed:

“The move to Shire Hall is poorly thought out. The financial savings are unsound. The council will still have to pay business rates, the Docks service charge, insurance and security amounting to well over £250,000 per year on HKP warehouses until they have been sold. This is more than double the £102,000 savings suggested in the cabinet report. The council must reassess. The business plan is flawed.”